Boat and spirits lifted

Monday 9th April 2012: 1 repair, 1 boat lift, 2.15 miles

Moored at Lion Salt Works Museum, Marston, Trent & Mersey Canal

Will Cleddau be repaired tomorrow? Will Relief Crew be reunited with car and family…? These were the questions that hung in the air last night.

Stranded far from road or population the crew dug deep into their own and boat reserves.  A small traditionally decorated stool, a gift, has been aboard for some 17 years.  It serves as seat, occasional table and as storage for young passengers’ activities. Treasure we found inside it last night: between the Draughts, the Ludo and the colouring books were packs of cards and a mini Trivial Pursuit set. Sanity and senses of humour were retained!

Yesterday’s rescue engineers had indicated a return to replace the diesel pump by about 10am. When stuck a long way from grocery supplies, fresh water or sanitation facilities a degree of rationing comes into force. Today’s morning routine for the four crew members was shortened by the no showers ruling and by 10am all were breakfasted –with nothing to do other than watch the rain chase down the windows and  bounce on the river surface.

The first phone call for the Captain: Vital Part (diesel pump for BMC 1.8 engine) not available locally, engineers would drive to Calcutt to collect…

Relief Captain downloaded The Times onto his mini-computer, Relief First Mate gave a Kindle tutorial to Boatwif, the Captain retrieved the gangplank from the river…

Elevenses…

The second phone call brought news that Vital Part had been tracked down; the engineers’ Satnav predicted their return to the boat as 2pm.

Lunch…

Boatwif and Relief First Mate broke into a canal race board game…

1.55pm: two sodden characters waved from the bank, ready to embark. Silences, tinkering, engine splutters, nothing. More tinkering, more diesel coughs, a couple of hiccups and then that lovely healthy diesel rumble! Paperwork completed the Captain was on the phone to dear Mrs Claus: yes, Cleddau could be booked on the 4.15 lift passage… Clad in full waterproofs noble Relief Captain scrambled ashore to release the ropes and return across the wobbly gangplank. The stern was poled back into midstream and away the boat went, mobile again after 27 silent hours.

Ploughing upstream now all crew members rejoiced in making watery progress once again. There stood the enormous ICI chemical works hissing, steaming and clunking, a vast sodium bicarbonate producer. Opposite soared the huge supports of the Anderton Lift, its upper structure like a vessel’s bow, the lower spaces more the mouth of Jonah. In heavy rain Cleddau took position on the holding moorings – and in due course her turn came. She was waved into the void, a brick wall ahead, massive black and white structures above, a smaller boat beside her. Up the boats rose; down descended the trip boat. At the top water levels were equalised before a chug across the aqueduct to rejoin the Trent and Mersey Canal.

So, YES and YES, by about 5pm Cleddau had been repaired and Relief Crew had been reunited with their car…

Refilled with water, unloaded of rubbish, Cleddau proceeded, for just a couple of miles. After the scenery of the River Weaver it is strange now to see lambs cavorting in fields – and car headlights on a road not far away. But for followers of the proposed itinerary look out: loss of time and total unfamiliarity with what lay ahead along the Bridgewater, Ashton and Peak Forest Canals has led to a re-plan. Southbound territory and timings are known. The northern part of the Cheshire Ring (and its potential tribulations) must remain until another cruise…

 Tomorrow to Middlewich, then back uphill…

You may also like...

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

%d bloggers like this: